The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Books  |  Comedy  |  Dance  |  Museum And Gallery  |  Theater

High philately

Mauritius enters the weird world of stamps
By SALLY CRAGIN  |  September 27, 2006

“When I started working on this play, a lot of people came out of the woodwork and said, ‘I used to collect stamps,’ ” explains writer Theresa Rebeck over the phone from Los Angeles. “And there was something freaky behind their eyes.” She pauses for a half-beat. “That I really liked. That collector’s hunger.”

Next Friday the Huntington Theatre Company premieres Mauritius , Rebeck’s new play about a pair of half-sisters who inherit a collection that includes the one- and two-penny post-office stamps issued from the South African island Mauritius, stamps that have sold for millions of dollars. “Collector’s hunger” is a big motivator for the other three characters in Mauritius , who may be genuine philatelists or just working a long con.

Director Rebecca Bayla Taichman (who will direct Rebeck’s The Scene in New York later this fall) says of the playwright (also a successful writer for film and TV) that “her plays have a violence and rawness, and if you push them to the edge of where they can go, the humor crackles.”

Rebeck herself still sounds bemused by the world of high-level philately, a terrain in which “tiny slips of paper have wondrous and bizarre meaning attached to them.” Once she started researching stamp collecting, “I found these two stamps quite magical, and then I became a bit of a wacko, nerd-like in my fascination in this world.”

“People have weird, sensual relationships with the object,” explains Obie-winning actor Marin Ireland, who plays Jackie, the sister eager to get the collection appraised. “Jackie starts the play in a place of desperation and has her survival instinct kick in, and then she goes to a more intense place. Theresa’s stuff is so rich for actors because there’s so much emotional landscape to explore — it’s thrilling and exhilarating.”

Rebeck has been on her own joyride with the work and had “no idea what would happen. I usually don’t write with such an open template. I usually like to have some idea of where I’m headed.” There were numerous drafts and workshops, and the play was read last spring as part of the Huntington’s Breaking Ground festival. She continued to work. “There was a lot of thinking and rethinking of the structure of the play. It’s still slightly incoherent to me.”

Rebeck’s comedy Bad Dates , which the Huntington presented in 2004, had shoes as its preoccupation. Here she delves further into her characters’ obsessions, especially that of Jackie, who, she says, “has a deep need that couldn’t be expressed. But for her, stamps were a possibility of resurrection because they’re worth so much money.”

MAURITIUS | Huntington Theatre Company, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston | October 6–November 12 | $15-$52 | 617.266.0800

On the Web
Huntington Theatre Company: // 

Related: Stamping grounds, Theater of war, Rethinking Chekhov, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Boston Center for the Arts, Business, Collecting,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   PERMANENT  |  February 20, 2008
    Body modification as art at the Peabody Essex Museum
  •   BEANE TOWN  |  January 08, 2008
    Speakeasy walks The Little Dog Laughed
  •   ACTING TEACHER  |  November 20, 2007
    Nilaja Sun’s journey from tough schools to art
  •   RAZOR’S EDGE  |  October 17, 2007
    Judy Kaye on reuniting with Sweeney Todd’s Demon Barber
  •   ARABIAN NIGHTS  |  October 09, 2007
    Roosen's monologues considers sex beneath the veil

 See all articles by: SALLY CRAGIN

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group